You are a field placement student completing your work experience in a law firm

You are a field placement student completing your work experience in a law firm. You have signed a confidentiality agreement. Your principal has been giving you a lot of interesting work, including meeting with clients and accompanying him on court appearances. He does a lot of family law work.

You are particularly troubled by one file. After a 15-year marriage and three children (two daughters and one son), the husband and wife separated. The children live with the mother. The daughters are 14 and 13, and the son is 10. Until recently, the father had regular access to the children. However, the oldest daughter has made allegations of sexual abuse by the father. All access by the father to his children has been terminated until the allegations can be investigated.

Your firm represents the wife.

You and your partner have been together for two years, and are planning to get married. One evening, you tell your partner a few details about the file. You mention the husband’s first name and the allegations of sexual abuse. The fact that the husband used to work as a shoe salesman also slips out. “Married for 15 years, three children together, then they separate and all of a sudden he’s a sexual monster. Would you ever do that to me if we separated?” you ask.

“I know that guy!” your partner exclaims. “You know Susan in Receiving at work? She’s the wife’s best friend. It’s all she talks about—this shoe salesman who’s trying to jerk her friend around. Wait till I tell her about this one. She told me he was a piece of scum, but I never knew he’d go this low!”

“You can’t tell anyone about this!” you exclaim. “I only mentioned it because it’s been bothering me! If anyone finds out, I could be in big trouble!”

Your partner, always practical, just shrugs. “Who’s gonna find out it came from you?” she says. “The way Susan and her pal go on about that guy, she’s probably already been told all the gruesome details.” However, after some discussion, she agrees not to tell anyone.

Discuss this situation, with specific reference to the ethical and professional issues involved in it. Support your analysis with details.


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